Seq Your Destiny: Neural Crest Fate Determination in the Genomic Era

Annu Rev Genet. 2021 Sep 21. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-071719-020954. Online ahead of print.


Neural crest stem/progenitor cells arise early during vertebrate embryogenesis at the border of the forming central nervous system. They subsequently migrate throughout the body, eventually differentiating into diverse cell types ranging from neurons and glia of the peripheral nervous system to bones of the face, portions of the heart, and pigmentation of the skin. Along the body axis, the neural crest is heterogeneous, with different subpopulations arising in the head, neck, trunk, and tail regions, each characterized by distinct migratory patterns and developmental potential. Modern genomic approaches like single-cell RNA- and ATAC-sequencing (seq) have greatly enhanced our understanding of cell lineage trajectories and gene regulatory circuitry underlying the developmental progression of neural crest cells. Here, we discuss how genomic approaches have provided new insights into old questions in neural crest biology by elucidating transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms that govern neural crest formation and the establishment of axial level identity. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 55 is November 2021. Please see for revised estimates.